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Ticket touts dubbed “dishonest fraudsters” in criminal case

By | Published on Friday 15 November 2019

Live music

Two ticket touts have been dubbed “dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed” as they fight various fraud charges in Leeds crown court.

That Peter Hunter and David Smith ran a prolific ticket touting operation is not disputed, but the question is whether they broke any laws in doing so. The criminal case against them follows an investigation by National Trading Standards.

After the government’s 2016 Waterson Report on ticket touting said that consumer rights laws needed to be better enforced in the secondary ticketing market, National Trading Standards said it would go after individual touts while the Competition & Markets Authority investigated the operations of the resale platforms like StubHub and Viagogo. The former then confirmed it had pressed charges against a bunch of ticket resellers last October.

Hunter and Smith face three charges of fraudulent trading and one of possessing articles for fraud. They deny all the charges against them.

The prosecution in the case say that the two men used bespoke software and a specialist browser to hoover up tickets from primary ticketing sites, using multiple identities and credit cards to circumvent rules that limit how many tickets any one person can buy.

“An inevitable consequence of their behaviour was that they reduced the number of face-value tickets that were available to purchase”, said Jonathan Sandiford, speaking for the prosecution, according to The Guardian.

“The two defendants were internet ticket touts and were also dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed”, he went on. “That greed caused them to exploit the love and passion that many people have for their favourite music acts”.

The prosecution say that the two men sold about £10.8 million worth of tickets in just over two and half years. They paid about £4 million for them on the primary sites.

As well as breaking primary site rules about maximum orders, they also allegedly failed to tell buyers on the resale sites that they used that the tickets they were selling might be cancelled by the promoter of the show. As well as this, they are accused of speculative selling, ie taking money for tickets that they hadn’t actually bought yet.

It remains to be seen how National Trading Standards’ legal arguments now fair in court.